| VSS Medical College in Burla. Telegraph picture |
Bhubaneswar, Nov. 29: Odisha has finally agreed to adopt the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test, a common all-India entrance exam for medical admissions, from May next year.
The state government had earlier raised concerns about accepting the all-India test, stating that it was “not in the interest in the state” as 15 per cent of its total seats would go to the national pool.
Government officials had also said that Odisha students “may not be able to compete with candidates from other states” and had decided to continue with the Odisha Joint Entrance Examination (OJEE).
“We had certain reservations about the test earlier, but the Centre has now addressed them. So, we have decided to be part of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) from next year and will not hold a separate state-level medical entrance test,” said health secretary Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra.
The online application procedure for NEET is expected to begin from December 1. Students will have to answer 180 objective-type questions during the three-hour test to be held on May 12.
However, the government’s decision to accept NEET does not seem to have gone down well with medical aspirants. They fear that a centrally administered test would be unfair as each state is governed by its own teaching standards and syllabus.
“The decision has come so late that it will leave very little time for us to prepare for the test. We had been following the OJEE pattern of questions and are not sure if the NEET format is similar,” said Aparna, a Class XII student of a city school.
Students said though a single exam would mean less stress and more focussed preparations, on the flip side, it might restrict the number of options for them. “The entrance tests of all the states and deemed universities would be brought into a single fold so that we would have less colleges to choose from,” said Ankush, a medical aspirant.
But Mohapatra said students from Odisha would not lag behind, as admissions would be based on a percentile basis.
“Students from Odisha would have better chances of qualifying for good institutes in other states,” he said, adding that the CBSE had also conceded their demand for more NEET centres in the state.
Mohapatra also added that the Centre had alleviated their apprehensions about Odisha students qualifying for the national-level test by assuring them that 85 per cent of the seats in medical colleges of the state would be reserved for domiciled candidates. “We will work out our own merit list and those seats will be filled through counselling by the directorate of medical education and training, Odisha,” Mohapatra said.
NEET, to be conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education, will publish an all-India list for nearly 40,000 seats.
Apart from Bhubaneswar and Rourkela, Koraput has been included as the third centre. The health department has also asked for two more centres in Berhampur and Sambalpur.
Five facilitation centres will also be set up to help medical aspirants with the application procedure at DAV Public School (Chandrasekhapur), Mother’s Public School and Kendriya Vidyalaya No.1 in Bhubaneswar besides Kendriya Vidyalaya-I in Cuttack, and Delhi Public School, Rourkela.